The Department of Health and Human Services stresses that children aged 6 or above need a minimum of one hour of moderate to vigorous (aerobic) physical activity every day, and at least thrice a week. They should also perform activities that strengthen their muscles and bones three days a week at the minimum.
The department recommends that children aged 3-5 should be physically active throughout the day, for proper growth and development; adult care givers of children must encourage children to participate in physical play of various types.
However, the unfortunate truth is that only a third of children are physically active. They get only about 50% of the recommended activity they need, because a major part of their time is spent in watching TV, playing video games, and so on. This is why, 1/3rd of children in the US are already overweight or obese, and 70% have a chance of becoming obese or overweight.
- Talk to your EPIC Health doctor who provides pediatric services. We can help your child understand why they need physical activity and suggest a plan of activities that best suits your child.
- Find an activity that would be fun for your child. You may have to go through trial. Once your child finds a sport that he or she likes, they are more likely to continue with it.
- Involve the whole family. When parents join children in some fun activity, it encourages the children to participate. This way, everyone gets their daily dose of exercise.
- Make sure that the activity is appropriate for your child’s age. If your child is in 6-10 age group, soccer, swimming, a long walk in the park, cycling, etc. are great activities to indulge.
- Ensure that the activity plan is convenient, comfortable and safe for your child. Dress your child in comfortable and appropriate clothes and footwear.
- Buy toys that encourage activities like – balls, rackets, jump ropes, pogo sticks, cycles, frisbees, and more.
- Walk with your kids. Take stairs instead of elevator whenever possible. This helps inculcate a habit of regular, anywhere, anytime exercise in your children.
- Take your children to skating rink, bowling alley, tennis courts, basketball or badminton courts, and help them develop a habit of sports and games. You could also play with them. Not only will it keep them active, they may actually get good at a sport and take it up seriously.
- Be a role model for your kids! When your kids see you work out, they feel encouraged to get some physical activity.
- Play with your kids – such as playing catch, hide and seek, hopscotch, etc.
- Limit screen time. This includes TV, computers, mobile devices and game consoles. Ideally, children should not have more than a couple of hours’ screen time every day. If the weather does not permit outdoor activity, use Nintendo Wii, PlayStation move games that actually mimic playing a sport – tennis, boxing, soccer, and more.
- Mix it up: everyone likes variety! Doing the same thing every day may be a boring prospect, especially for kids. Keep it interesting by having them do different things every single day.
- Get creative. Does your child like arts and crafts? Suggest a nature walk to collect leaves, rocks to make a collage. Does your child like reading? Walk or cycle to a nearest library to borrow a book. Take them to a gym. If they love to dance, your job is easy – simply play their favorite music, and dance with your child.
- Involve your kids in household chores like washing dishes, dusting, cleaning your garage, sweeping the yard, taking out the trash, gardening, weeding, preparing beds, doing the laundry. All of these can help make your children stronger. This way you can incorporate physical activity into your children’s daily routine.
- Check sports available at their school, and make sure they actively participate in at least one sport.
- Martial arts lessons are a good activity too. It not only improves their strength and physical fitness, they also become more confident. Teenagers can be encouraged to do yoga, join zumba, aerobics classes, skateboarding, etc.
- Make sure they don’t overdo anything. Exercises and other physical activities should be a fun thing – not something that hurts. The children will start dreading it then. At EPIC Health, we help parents encourage their children when they feel very tired or experience aches. You should either slow down, or reduce their activity.
When children are physically active, they build endurance and muscle strength, maintain optimal weight, sleep better, and are likely to be more cheerful and energetic with improved cognitive function.
Bring your child to EPIC Health today for a complete health evaluation. Your EPIC physician will be able to tell you how your child is developing and growing. They will also check the presence of mild to major health issues in your kids, provide them with CDC recommended vaccinations, and recommend appropriate exercises or physical activities to help your child grow healthy and strong.
Schedule an appointment to consult our pediatric services at Detroit, Southfield or Ferndale centers, or simply walk in! We are open 7 days a week for extended hours.
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